Lululemon

Creating components for people to live longer, healthier, fun lives.

Monday 8 June 2015, by Calista Chen, Hilda Kasravi

2 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Lululemon Athletica is a yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, which produces a clothing line and runs international clothing stores from its company base in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The founder, Chip Wilson, was inspired by this lifestyle after his first yoga class. He decided to focus on this booming market by providing high quality yoga wear. lululemon understands the importance of environmental sustainability and aims to reduce any productional wastes. They have 5 distinctive footprints: carbon, water, materials, transportation, and waste.

  • Carbon: In order to reduce carbon emission, lululemon has been sponsoring several innovations like Sustainable Apparel Coalition as a way of supporting ways to reduce environmental harm from carbon emissions.
  • Water: Their raw material developers are examining ways to source more environmentally friendly materials, and manufacturing processes that require less water while delivering the same high-quality products. They are currently working to reduce the water footprint of their stores, while educating customers through community boards, events and guest speakers. lululemon also reports water footprint each year to the Carbon Disclosure Project and are in conversation with other brands and solutions providers about how they can continue to reduce their impact.
  • Materials: In terms of materials, they use mainly recycled polyester and organic cotton for all their products. They recently joined a formal partnership with bluesign® technologies, which audits their suppliers’ products — and the processes that create them — to make sure they meet the highest environmental standards. These independent standards can be applied across the entire production chain and are designed to reduce the carbon and water footprint left behind. In addition, lululemon is also working with the not-for-profit Canopy to ensure that their use of forest-based fibres promotes the health of critical forest areas.
  • Transportation: Majority of their products travel by air, but they insist on traveling through ground if possible. They are working to reduce transportation footprint by partnering with logistics provider Damco to help ship products around the globe quickly with as little impact as possible. The results from this project will be used to design long-term solutions, such as improved container utilization and airfreight reduction.
  • Waste: For products that are comprised or can’t be sold, they partnered with Vancouver-based company, debrand, to reuse and recycle the product. At their Store Support Centre in Vancouver, they are working toward a 99 percent waste diversion goal and supporting their stores to get there too.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

In a world that is driven by the constant need for more profit, ethics is sometimes forgotten. However, Lululemon takes pride in it’s work towards addressing ethical issues and takes initiative to continuously improve uprising ethical challenges. Such challenges include: human rights & working conditions, environmental sustainability, and community empowerment.

Human Rights & Working Conditions
“We believe that the apparel industry can be a powerful catalyst for positive social, environmental and economic opportunities globally, and we’re dedicated to elevating our partners who are best in the world at what they do.”
Human Trafficking: Lululemon has a zero tolerance policy in regards to forced or bonded labor and unapproved subcontractors/facilities and home work. The company’s auditors are trained to identify any such behavior that infringes on employees’ basic human rights.

  • Child Labor: Lululemon has a zero tolerance policy toward child labor at all of their manufacturing facilities. Their vendors must ensure Lululemon that all employees in their facilities are at least 15 years old (in accordance to the International Labor Organization standards)
  • Forming Unions: All Lululemon employees have a right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, which gives them the right to be apart of unions or employees’ organization.
  • Wages & Overtime: Lululemon vendors must pay employees at the local minimum wage, and provide benefits that are in accordance with applicable local laws. Regions with no legal minimum wage, vendors pay an industry average wage (or higher) which sustains an employee’s needs.

Environmental Sustainability
“As athletes and yogis, we understand that environmental health is the foundation for personal health, which is why we’re passionate about reducing our environmental impact as we are about staying fit.”

  • Chemical Management: Lululemon requires all their vendors to have a written chemical management policy and procedure. With training and set systems in place, chemical are handled correctly and regulate limit exposure and accidents.
  • Hazardous and non-hazardous waste: Vendors are required to reduce waste and reuse and recycle materials whenever possible. They must show that production, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste adheres to stringent standards and handled with great responsibility.
  • Product lifestyle: Lululemon products are designed to last five years of intended use which helps reduce environmental impact.

Community Empowerment
“Our vendors engage with their local community to affect positive change for the people that live, work and play in the area.”

  • Metta Movement: Each year, chosen vendors are awarded metta grants to carry out projects that drive social and environmental sustainability.Vendors establish and own these projects and Lululemons supports them through the metta funds. In the recent years, a grant was given to a vendor in Bangladesh, who partnered with Room to Read to address gender inequality and literacy issues. This grant later expanded to Cambodia in 2012.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

Lululemon says their mission is to “create components for people to live long, healthy and fun lives” but their mission can only be possible “with a healthy planet and thriving company.” Many textile industries lack a better purpose than just producing clothes. Lululemon does not. In addition to making technical athletic apparel for yoga, running, dancing, and other sports, they host in-store events such as self-defense and yoga classes and goal-setting workshops. To truly put forward their mission, Lululemon produces with a purpose.

Lululemon has a passion for promoting better health and a more sustainable environment. When there is passion, ethics becomes apart of it. There is constant innovation to be better, to produce better, and to better the environment. They work with their customers to ensure their products perform well for them. They look beyond their resources to innovate new ways in reducing and revamping. When undergoing such changes, ethical dilemmas can arise, but Lululemon works hard to resolve any issues.

In March 2014, Lululemon recalled a pair of their sheer yoga pants because they were too sheer. This issue could have easily been ignored, but instead Lululemon worked with its customers and manufacturers to resolve the issue ethically and provide better quality. In a statement, Lululemon said, “The shares will recover, but at the end of the day, the Lululemon brand is all about technical performance and putting the customer first.” This company stays true to its original roots and being ethical is part of it.

Lululemon gets trust from its customers through education. I trust Lululemon and the work its doing because of all the information that can be found not just on their webpage, but also on their products. Every Lululemon apparel has a tag with the product information and use. They report their annual usage of resources and communicate their current stories through their blog. Lululemon is a competent company that stands out and is making changes constantly to continue promoting their mission.

“Our stand for sustainability:

  • We are a model for community-led sustainability including our extended lululemon family of ambassadors, vendors and guests
  • We adopt sustainable technologies to transform our business, our product and stores
  • We expand our collaborations and partnerships to include brands, suppliers and NGOs that share our
sustainability vision
  • We communicate our sustainability efforts with honesty, transparency, authenticity and integrity
  • We educate, inspire and challenge our communities to become leaders in sustainability”

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The possible challenges that lululemon faces in the future include: not providing more eco-friendly materials and not reducing enough carbon footprint in their production and distribution processes.

Although lululemon has consistently prided themselves in providing environmentally friendly clothing and products, there has been past accusations that their materials are not as high quality and environmentally friendly as they claim to be. In order to resolve these accusations and prevent future problems related to material quality, Lululemon can only partner with environmental-friendly producers and manufacturers to ensure that they do not compromise quality or the environment. Instead of using harmful materials like nylon which is non biodegradable, they can try using material like tencel or cashmere that are bio degradable. Costs would increase for these products, but as an ethical company who prides themselves in being eco-friendly, this tradeoff is crucial. They can also be more transparent with their customers and share their manufacturing and production plants (not just the country) in order to build trust and a lasting relationship with the customers.

Aside from choosing higher quality and environmentally materials to reduce carbon footprint, Lululemon can change their packaging and distribution to a more eco-conscious method. One example is to use 100% recycled and biodegradable shipping and packaging boxes since distribution and packaging is one of their main contributors of carbon emission. As they mentioned on their company website, air freight is a significant part of their transportation process and is also the largest contributing factor of greenhouse gas. Reducing air freights by establishing more onsite factories and manufacture sites will help reduce carbon emission. lululemon can start thinking in the long run, which most companies fail to do, and focus on what they can do now to improve both the environment and keep their sales in the long run. By establishing more manufacturing sites in cities or countries (without deforesting land) that have the highest demands, they will be able to offset the environmental costs of high air freight carbon emissions. Another more sustainable way is to ship products along with other companies that do not use all the spaces in a cargo or plane. Maximizing the space in transportation systems will decrease emission for both the companies and in turn, they can split the cost of transportation. Shipping by cargo vessels will take longer time, but if Lululemon estimates consumer demands, they will be able to ship early and produce on time.

Bibliography

http://www.lululemon.com/about/
http://investor.lululemon.com/releases.cfm
http://sustainability.lululemon.com/?mnid=mn;community;responsibility

Location: Vancouver, BC V6J 1C7 (Canada)

Sector: Manufacturing

Official website: http://sustainability.lululemon.com/our-sustainability-vision/

Key figures:
  • Revenue: .37 billion
  • Net Income: 1.4 million
  • Number of Employees as of 2014: 7,622
  • Headquarters: Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada
  • Countries of Operation: Canada, United States, England, Australia, and New Zealand (211 locations)
  • CEO: Laurent Potdevin

Nbr. visits: 2299

Nbr. inspires: 2